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“The most pervasive essential component of personal leadership is the commitment to leading yourself.”

Joelle Jay is a principal with the global leadership development firm, Leadership Research Institute (LRI), which specializes in leadership and organizational development. They partner with leaders across a wide variety of industries, helping them to guide and transform their organizations. As an executive coach, author and speaker, Joelle helps leaders leverage their talents to achieve top performance and business results. As a result, leaders are able to sustain the effectiveness and sense of professional well-being that keep them at their best.


BusinessInterviews.com: Why do you believe that leaders never have to choose between success and happiness?

Dr. Jay: If you want to be truly successful, part of your success depends on being happy. The goal is to find personal success that also leads to business or financial success. For example, you may be someone who has been successful but hasn’t taken the time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. In that case, tapping into one of the practices of personal leadership I recommend, Feel Fulfillment, is a way to help you feel that what you’re doing matters, and give you the perspective you need to realign with your goals. You become more successful when you embrace that success and let yourself feel it. By doing so, connect to an internal source of vitality that leaders need in order to strive.

BusinessInterviews.com: How can leaders utilize personal leadership practices to prioritize work and life and maintain a healthy work-life balance?

Dr. Jay: The overarching goal of personal leadership is balance. The first practice, Get Clarity, is about getting the vision, seeing both the work pieces and personal pieces of your life in place. Getting the vision of what balance looks like is crucial. Then, the second practice, Find Focus, will help you to prioritize what is most important to you. The third practice, Take Action, will help sort out lower priority items from higher priority items and take a step toward success. The rest of the 10 practices of personal leadership, similarly, serve to help you follow through on that action even with even better results. I have coached leaders with these practices for years, and have found that because of the emphasis on personal structure “personal leadership” forms a more sustainable leadership model, because it is tailored to an individual’s strengths, priorities and interests.

BusinessInterviews.com: Can you share what you believe to be essential components of personal leadership and some techniques on how to employ them in real-life situations?

Dr. Jay: The most pervasive essential component of personal leadership is the commitment to leading yourself. Personal leadership means leadership of the self – putting yourself first and leading yourself to the success you want. For example, I am working with a team of leaders right now that are in an organization that is going through constant transformation. Both their business model and leadership models have changed, so it’s easy for them to feel like victims of circumstance and then become discouraged. Personal leadership reminds us that we are the leaders of our own life, and that we can turn a challenging situation into a positive situation by identifying the strengths of each member of the team and employing those strengths to new structures in a time of change. The personal leadership practice I have taught the leaders in this example is the eighth practice, Keep Learning, which helps them learn how to be successful in new types of environments, even in a time of change.

BusinessInterviews.com: Why do you think that challenges arise with leadership development programs for women? What foundations need to be in place to set up female leaders for success?

Dr. Jay: As an executive coach working with senior leaders in Fortune 500 companies, I have seen a noticeable increase in these programs, and I’m happy to say that women are making great strides in the business world. Yet challenges arise with leadership development programs for women when they are seen as a panacea within a company. Sometimes they seem to “solve the problem,” but the culture of the company doesn’t change. So the program may be successful on a surface level, but if the structure or environment of the company doesn’t change with it, then the program has become only a temporary solution.
Strategies that have shown to be most effective in advancing women leaders are including sponsorship programs like mentors and employee networking groups, as well as including men in women’s leadership. In regards to the former, women must have opportunities to network with powerful leaders who can help them advance – not just other women or lower level leaders with good ideas but little influence. In regards to the latter, if programs to advance and retain women aren’t backed by action, particularly action that includes senior sponsors who hold leadership and management positions, then they will amount to little over time.

BusinessInterviews.com: What are some ways that leaders can redefine their professional and personal life through your personal leadership techniques, including how to track their progress?

Dr. Jay: It used to be that people drove toward one particular measure of success, like a specific business result. Instead you should track your progress via a dashboard, looking at multiple measurements at the same time, just like the dashboard of a car. It would an indication of a vehicular problem to have high RPMs but low MPH, but looking at those two numbers individually may not give you the same indication. So when it comes to tracking your results, conscious redefinition comes in: How do you track your results across both your career and your life? Look at how you define success. If you sacrifice success in one part of your life for success in the other you aren’t truly progressing.

BusinessInterviews.com: What’s a common misconception you encounter about leadership?

Dr. Jay: A common misconception is that leadership is about other people. In some ways that’s true, and of course in a business setting that’s true, whether you’re a thought leader hoping to gain a following or an executive looking to build your team. But with that said, leadership is equally about how you lead yourself. It’s not enough to be able to lead others at the sacrifice of your life force, because that is going to be the root for which business success grows or fails.

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